chapter  6
27 Pages

The American city: ‘the old knot of contrariety’

A popular contemporary perception of America is as a vast city recreated from half-remembered fragments of films, television dramas, popular music, and a thousand advertising images. Quite simply, American cities appear to be all around us. This is only one aspect of how we imagine America, but it is, for many of us, the most attractive, engaging and threatening aspect of the country However, despite the constant presence of American cities in our lives, regardless of where we live, they remain mysterious and unknowable, like a familiar text that we seem to possess but whose final meaning evades us as we attempt to read it.